Showing dogs on tight leads causes distress, says RSPCA: annual attack is boring, says KC

15/03/2017

Showing dogs on tight leads causes distress, says RSPCA: annual attack is boring, says KC

SHOWING dogs on leads which are too tight is compromising their welfare, the RSPCA believes.

Its officers say they saw exhibitors causing dogs discomfort in their efforts to show them, and say the Kennel Club’s crackdown on double-handling may have made the situation worse.

Holding leads too tightly caused the dogs distress, the charity said this week, and risked physical harm.

But the KC said the RSPCA was worrying about ‘silly points’ and should be concentrating on issues such as puppy farming.

Lisa Richards, the charity’s dog welfare expert and senior scientific officer, said the issue of handlers pulling hard on leads appeared to be more prevalent this year. The double-handling issue had forced exhibitors to keep stricter control of their dogs this year, she said.

Ms Richards said she had been monitoring Crufts for the past four years, and tight leads were most often seen when judges are going over the dogs.

“The leads are held tightly on their necks but right at the top of their neck behind their ears to show off the length of the dog’s neck or an aspect of a dog’s neck, or they are wearing choke chains,” she said, adding that it was ‘really disappointing’ that such ‘superficial displays’ were put above welfare.

“It seems to be something we have noticed a lot this year,” she said. “It has the potential to be quite uncomfortable and could cause them pain.

“It’s not necessary to cause a dog discomfort in order to show them. Science and experience have shown that these harsh training methods are unnecessary and that people should be using positive, reward-based methods to train their dogs and to encourage them to ‘perform’ within the show ring to ensure the dogs enjoy it too.”

Mrs Kisko said the RSPCA’s annual attacks on Crufts were ‘very boring’.

“We have far, far bigger more important issues that we and the rest of the dog world are looking at,” she said.  “The RSPCA are niggling away and worrying about silly points that are non-issues. I would far rather they concentrated on actual animal cruelty like puppy farming”

Mrs Kisko denied that there was any evidence of harsh handling but conceded that there ‘certainly a few people that had their leads tighter than would be ideal’.

“We’re talking about people’s much-loved pets, they’re not going to be nasty to them,” she said. “But they do want to get the best out of them.

“If we’d seen harsh handling, as has happened in the past, we deal with it immediately. We are a big organisation and a worldwide dog show with a massive reputation to protect. No way would we allow dogs to be harmed.”

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